Willoughby 3 for 3 on season, Barnwell and Peterson win their first
By Matthew J. Sullivan
The grandstands were packed for the third straight weekend for Mother’s Day weekend racing this past Saturday evening at Redwood Acres Raceway. Unlike the previous too weekends where the weather was sunny but extremely windy, this weather for the afternoon was sunny, warm and with only a slight breeze in the air. Just like the first two races this season, the drivers in the local divisions did not fail to disappoint as the racing was close and many of the finishes hotly contested.
For the first time since the inception of the division in 1989, the mini stock class did not compete due to a low car count. Unless the division gains some more competitors as the season progresses, it may be unlikely that the minis will be racing at the Acres again. It would be an unfortunate shame for what is the oldest running division at Redwood Acres Raceway and at one time boasted fields of 20 or more cars.
In real stock action, Jim Redd won the trophy dash over Nick Green, Casey Mitchell and Shawn Craig. In the heat race, Wyatt Roach’s car succumbed to engine problems, something that had been plaguing him all afternoon. Mitchell won the heat ahead of Ryan Robinson, Craig, Green and Redd. Craig put his pole position starting spot to good use as he took the lead in the early going of the main event. Outside front row starter, Mitchell didn’t have the same fortune as he was unable to get his car to handle on the outside line costing him several positions. Redd proved to be Craig’s closest competition and at one point it looked as though Redd had the strength to challenge Craig for the lead. However, a challenge by Mitchell for second broke Redd’s momentum and gave Craig enough of gap to get to the checkered flag comfortably. Redd held on for second while Green, Mitchell and Robinson rounded out the top five.
The roadrunner division had another solid turnout with more drivers expected to join the field in the very near future. For the third time in three races, Raleigh Willoughby took the trophy dash win ahead of Dax Kinsey, Nick Hansen and Bill Snow. The heat race got rough for Dylan Cook who was using a barrowed car for the night when he made contact in turn one. Jimmy Murray also suffered damage in the incident as his hood popped open and covered his front vision. Thankfully the damage to both cars was reparable. Snow took the heat race victory over Charlie Anderson, Hansen, Kinsey and Willoughby.
The action got going from the very beginning of the main event. Robbie Nelson and Kolby Jackson got together and spun in turn two to bring out the caution flag. After a complete restart, Cook got bounced around and slammed into the backstretch wall putting him out of the race and bringing out the yellow flag again. After the restart, Cook and Anderson came together racing for third place in turn one sending Anderson spinning. Unfortunately, Jackson got loose and spun into Anderson’s stopped car. Anderson was able to continue in the event while Jackson was finished for the night.
After that incident, the field calmed down and the real racing got going. Kinsey was able to take the lead away from Rick Crawley bringing Hansen and Willoughby with him. These three were able to pull away from the rest of the field to decide who would be the winner amongst themselves. Willoughby was able to sneak under Hansen for second on lap 10. On lap 14, Kinsey got too high in turn four allowing Willoughby to slide under to take the lead. The two hit coming off the corner but both drivers were able to safely recover. Hansen was able to use lap traffic to get by Kinsey a few laps later. Unfortunately for Hansen, he was unable to put any kind of challenge to Willoughby for the lead and at the checkered flag it was Willoughby winning the third of three main events on the season. Hansen crossed second with Kinsey third, Snow fourth and Murray fifth.
Paul Peeples, Jr. found himself in familiar territory in the thunder roadster trophy dash as he was the race’s winner over Brandon Barnwell, Mike Ward and Tommy Payne. Barnwell took the heat race victory over Belinda Ward, Peeples, Mike Ward and Payne. Barnwell knew that getting to the front quickly would be a major key to getting the victory and he did just that, maneuvering through the field to take the lead away from Belinda Ward on lap five. By lap 8, Peeples moved by Ward for second and set his sights on Barnwell who had a substantial lead. The best racing of the night was between the husband/wife, or better wife/husband duo of Belinda and Mike Ward along with Tommy Payne. Belinda was driving her best race ever on the night solidly holding down the third position over two faster qualifiers.
On lap 15, Peeples finally caught Barnwell and tried to move under him coming off turn four. Peeples came off the corner too tight however forcing him to get sideways. In an effort to save his car, he drove through the grass and safely back on the track, however he lost his track position. On lap 20, Belinda Ward’s night went south when contact from her husband Mike sent her spinning in turn one and two. Peeples was able to close the gap in the final stages, but could only manage to catch Barnwell’s bumper at the checkered flag. The victory was Barnwell’s first in the thunder roadster division driving for Donn Cole. After Peeples it was Mike Ward third and Tommy Payne in fourth.
Larry Pries took the win in the sportsman trophy dash over Mic Moulton, Dennis DelBiaggio and Angelo Marcelli. The heat race featured a nip and tuck duel at the line as Donnie Brown won over DelBiaggio, Jerry Peterson, Pries and Moulton. Brown took the lead early on in the main event until lap four when the lights in turns three and four lost power resulting in a yellow flag. The drivers deemed the track safe enough to continue to race despite the lack of lighting and the race continued.
Things got close coming off the fourth turn on lap six when DelBiaggio and Joe McDonald made contact. McDonald drove his car though the grass and back into turn one without any further incident. Brown held onto the lead until lap 10 when Peterson drove under to take the spot bringing DelBiaggio and Moulton with him. With the field spread out, DelBiaggio and Moulton both worked to try to catch Peterson. With two laps remaining, DelBiaggio spun off turn two and into the infield. Peterson was able to take the checkered flag without challenge over Moulton, McDonald, Brown and Pries.
Racing at the Acres takes a much needed week off before returning Saturday May 22nd. The Airport Auto Brokers Late Model series will be making their first ever points-paying stop at Redwood Acres Raceway. It is the first of three events that the series will be making at the 3/8-mile paved oval in 2010.